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Apple and Samsung Vying for First Transparent Phone

Apple and Samsung appear to have high hopes for a future transparent smartphone display, according to a new report.

Credit: Parently Apple

(Image credit: Parently Apple)

Both companies have filed for patents that describe a transparent smartphone display, according to Patently Apple. Better yet, they appear to have been working on the technology for years and are still filing for new patents as the technology evolves.

The latest patent comes from Samsung, which just this week was granted a design patent on a smartphone featuring a transparent display, according to Patently Apple. The patent shows a rounded smartphone design with a transparent screen. There's also what's called a "rear bottom perspective view" in the device. Samsung doesn't describe, however, how that feature might work in the real world.

The Samsung patent also describes a cover of sorts that will fold around the screen to keep the display protected. The cover will also work as a stand to prop up the handset when it's not in use.

MORE: Apple Designed an iPhone-Powered Laptop

Meanwhile, Apple has been filing for a rash of patents that have slightly different designs.

While Samsung's option has a transparent screen that nearly covers the handset's face, the iPhone would have what amounts to a window that features a transparent design. The company also filed a patent that describes how a transparent screen could be used in a MacBook or iMac. And that, too, according to Patently Apple, features only a transparent window instead of a full-fledged transparent display.

But there's more to the designs than simply aesthetics. According to Patently Apple, the patents also hint at augmented reality features that would allow you to look through your display to see a physical object on the other side. Over that, the screen will display virtual objects. The idea is to enhance the augmented reality experience without needing to rely on a camera. Instead, you'd simply look through the display.

Before we get too carried away, however, let's keep in mind that Apple and Samsung file for patents all the time. And although the companies could be working on transparent screen, there's not way to tell when these types of displays could show up on phones.